The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World
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April 9th, 2011 (02:58 AM). Edited May 13th, 2011 by Cutlerine.
Gone. May or may not return.
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Updates will slow down now. I repeat, they will slow down. Probably just once or twice a week.
You see, I will be taking a series of rather important exams, starting in May, and I need to raise the level of revision I'm doing to a level where it will no longer be practical to maintain my current update level.
Updates will return to normal once my life does. Now for the chapter:
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Humming the Bassline
Yeah! This is DJ Professor K, baby, the master of mayhem, you know what I’m sayin’, bringing you another Tokyo under-ground pirate radio broadcast from...
Jet Set Radio
! I'm gonna bust into your head through your cute li’l ears and blow your minds with my sexy voice and out-of-sight sounds! Those of you prone to nosebleeds should keep those tissues handy, suckas!
Nah, in all serious, this is just me, your friendly neighbourhood plasma Ghost, Robin Goodfellow.
First up, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing this and not Kester. See, the thing is, the kid’s not here right now, and I’m seizing my chance to jazz up this narrative a bit. I’ve possessed the computer, and I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty comfortable ride. Better than a washing machine, anyway – I never liked getting water in me. I told you about that way back in Chapter Seven, if I recall correctly.
Anyway, back to the point. That’s the thing about me; I’m unconstrained by petty human values like ‘narrative technique’ and ‘not waffling’. I write what I please – though that’s not at all the same as saying that I please what I write. Although, it does work with I eat what I like, because I also like what I eat.
Where was I? Oh yes, back to the point. I thought I’d regale you here with a little story of the old days, long before I met Kester in that accursed hospital in Rustboro – long before I’d even
of ever going to Hoenn. This was in the demon days of the middle Noughties, and I’d just finished using my considerable talents as a computer virus to put a stop to the Gorillaz world tour before it had even happened – made a tidy profit out of
, I can tell you, though to this day Murdoc won’t speak to me. That’s the problem with existing mostly in the virtual plane – people who aren’t even real can interfere with your life.
So this would have been around 2006, 2007, something like that. It was then that I had this brilliant idea. I was going to steal something that everyone thought was unstealable: the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
All right, so I was a shade overambitious. After all, the ceiling’s still there, so you already know I didn’t pull it off. But I want to tell you it was through no fault of my own, it was the damn Swiss Guard. When you’re incorporeal like me, you tend to rely on hired hands – and hired hands don’t tend to be bulletproof. Thus, they get shot up by the Swiss Guard.
Wait. That’s not what ‘shot up’ means. Never mind, I’ll use it how I want. Like Humpty Dumpty, I can make a word mean whatever I so choose. Impenetrability, that’s what I say.
Er... Oh yeah, the Sistine Chapel. So it goes like this: I possessed this Boeing 747 – and this time I actually
a Boeing 747, not a school bus full of orphans – and had it gutted. Everything taken out, to make it as light as possible.
Actually, there’s an interesting story about the debris from the gutting. I sold it off in Holland for five thousand pounds, then bought myself about a hundred and fifty thousand punnets of strawberries. I swapped those for a load of Béarnaise sauce in Mongolia, sold that to a restaurant in Kanto for six thousand, bought up shares in a Sinnoh company mining the Underground and sold them off a month later for eight hundred thousand. It was one smooth bit of business, I can tell you. Nothing illegal, and very, very lucrative.
Anyway, back to the Sistine Chapel ceiling. So I hired up these goons to secretly saw through the roof supports, so that I could fly over, attach the whole roof to the plane and fly away with the ceiling.
But yeah, as you can imagine, that’s where the plan came down. I flew over, had my guys parachute down – a couple of them broke limbs/necks/spines in the fall, but it was OK, I’d factored that in – and they got sawing, but the Swiss Guard got wind of it all, and they were kind of
Now, I’d considered hiring something like a team of crooked Kadabra to just levitate it off, since they could repel bullets with their minds, but I assumed the Swiss Guard would have Pokémon too. They did, as it turned out – a fleet of Zuppenkrab from Germany. Apparently the only thing that’s worse for hired goons than being shot is being sliced in half by a giant crab made of iron. So yeah, the plan was something of a dismal failure. Oh well. Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today, eh?
What do I mean by that, I wonder? I’m not entirely sure. The White Queen seemed to know what it was all about, so I guess I’ll just trust in her. I couldn’t do much better, after all – she was the one who taught me how to believe impossible things. Great woman. One of the few meatfaces for whom I have any modicum of respect.
So... back to the Sistine Chapel ceiling theft. That was a bit of a failure, but I can assure you it’s not representative of my work overall. I’m mostly an art thief, and I’m really, really good. Promise. I’m like Thomas Crown. Better, even. I’ve stolen works of art from almost every major museum gallery in the world, except the Dallas Museum of Art because whenever I go anywhere
Dallas I end up getting chased by packs of hungry Decoyote.
That reminds me, there was this one time back in ’98 when—
Ah, damn it, Kester’s back! Speak to you later, boys and girls. Stay tuned, and don’t go anywhere!
I stepped forwards and punched the nearest Magma as hard as I could. On either side of me, my clones did likewise.
My personal army was ever-expanding; now there were around fifteen of us, and we walked forwards, lashing out at the Magmas with wild abandon. I had become lost in the mass; I doubt that anyone knew which one was the real me any longer.
Faced with over twenty Kester Rubies, with more on the way, the Magmas decided that it wasn’t going to be possible to extract me from the mass. My clones pressed tight around me, keeping me at the centre of a defensive ring. It was like being in the world’s strangest hall of mirrors, and rather disorienting – but we ploughed forth through the crowd, our number ever-growing. Several of my clones were shot, knifed or hit with Pokémon moves, but always more sprang up to take their place as they flickered and vanished.
“Stop!” called Maxie wearily, looking at his minions’ pathetic efforts. “This isn’t working. It would seem young Kester has beaten us today.”
My clones and I paused, and turned to look at him with the Magmas. Around us, the red-suited goons were starting to grumble; they didn’t like to give up, though they could see their situation was fairly hopeless.
“You are a worthy adversary,” Maxie said, looking directly at me. For a fleeting moment, I wondered how he knew I was the real one, but the thought was pushed out of my head by what he did next: in the midst of his Team’s utter failure, he
. “It seems the blues are kicking it up a notch,” he went on mildly. “Well, good! I appreciate the challenge.”
He looks like a shark
, Puck commented, and he did: his eyes had gone very dark and his smile very broad; his face seemed to be stretched unnaturally across a carcharine skull. I shivered, and so did my duplicates.
“Until we meet again, Kester,” he said, making a small and probably ironic bow. “Until we meet again.”
? queried Puck.
You mean to say you can’t detect irony with 100% certainty? Shame on
, Mister Ruby.
I turned and left. I’d had enough of the shark-faced leader and his red-suited grunts to last me a lifetime.
Vladimir gave Estragon’s foot a cursory glance.
“Boots must be taken off every day, Gogo – I’ve told you this before.”
Barry gritted his teeth and mined harder, but not even the rhythmic drilling of the excavator could block out the two men’s inane banter.
“But,” Vladimir continued, warming to his theme, “there’s man all over for you. Blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.”
“Haven’t we had a conversation like this before?”
“Only about seventy times.”
“Ah.” Estragon drilled in silence for a while. Then: “It’s funny how hard habits die, isn’t it?”
“Habit,” pronounced Vladimir, in the tones of someone delivering a momentous truth, “is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.”
“That’s a good one.”
“It was Beckett, writing on Proust.”
“Beckett. Now there’s a name.”
There was another long pause, and Barry was just settling down to some nice, peaceful drilling when Vladimir spoke again.
“Do you mean that it is a name, which it
, or that it’s a good name?”
Barry let loose a warning rumble that carried right over the relentless hammering of the excavators. Vladimir and Estragon each gave him a long, concerned look.
“I’ve a feeling he doesn’t like us.”
“They do now,” Vladimir affirmed. “We moved on, remember?”
There was a third long pause. If Barry had been a better-read man, he might have made some sort of remark about Harold Pinter at this point, but he wasn’t, and didn’t.
“What’s it all about?” pondered Vladimir, after some time had passed.
“The weasel under the cocktail cabinet?” suggested Estragon.
“Wrong playwright,” Vladimir countered.
“Ah!” cried Estragon, but he had nothing further to say, and the pair lapsed into further silence.
It was not long afterwards that Barry’s excavator hit something that produced an entirely different sound to crunching rock: the sharp clang of struck metal echoed through the shaft.
Immediately, the three men stopped drilling. The Gorsedd had been known to lay mines before, and it wouldn’t do to go smashing those up without due care and attention.
Barry hefted his excavator over his shoulder – a feat that required two hands, even for such an improbably muscular man as he – and tossed on the ground behind him. Vladimir and Estragon laid theirs down more gently, and they gathered around the piece of metal protruding from the end of the shaft.
“What is that?” wondered Estragon.
“I’m not sure,” Vladimir replied. “Pozzo would have known, I know it. He seemed a bright enough fellow.”
“I’ll tell you who would know,” Estragon said.
.” Estragon made meaningful movements of his eyebrows, and Vladimir nodded slowly.
“Yes,” he agreed, “he would.”
“It’s a mine,” growled Barry, resisting the urge to dash the two foreigners’ brains out against the wall. “Go and tell the boss.”
“I’ll go,” offered Vladimir.”
“No, I shall—”
of you go,” ordered Barry, and perhaps the blood in his eye was showing more obviously than usual, because neither Vladimir nor Estragon cared to debate the point, and left with unusual alacrity.
Alone at long last, the giant Aqua sat down and leaned against the wall, keeping a watchful eye on the mine. It was a mark of how low he seemed to have sunk that he would choose to stay in the presence of an unexploded bomb over any of the other options available to him right now.
Barry considered Vladimir and Estragon. Their presence was like a set of iron barbs in his skull; they made his very brain
Then there was Shelly. She wasn’t nearly as bad – she treated her workers right, which was more than you could say for most bosses – but she was a woman. And Barry’s fierce chauvinism rankled at the idea that he was under the command of a member of the fair sex.
And then there was the final member of the little crew down here. The one whom Barry loathed above all people, the one who had led him to this accursed place in the first instance.
“Hi Barry!” said Scarlett, coming around the corner. “It’s me!”
“I can see that,” rumbled the giant, regarding her with steely eyes. “What do you want?”
“I came to see if you had any more sweets.”
A series of embarrassing outbursts, which shall go unrecorded in this chronicle, had left Barry owing a great many sweets to the blackmailing ten-year-old, and he had so far succeeded in paying off half of his debt. The only good to come of it, Barry mused sourly and with unusual intellect, would be felt by her dentist.
“I don’t.” Barry’s voice was so low that it passed out of the range of human hearing in places. “Go away. There’s an unexploded mine here.”
“Fine.” Scarlett stuck her tongue out at him. “I was going to tell you that another Aqua has arrived, but I’m not even going to show you the picture now.”
Barry’s heart leaped. Another Aqua? A companion in this wilderness of insanity? This was the best news he’d had for a long, long time.
“What kind and how many?” he asked, referring to sweets.
“Two packets of fizzy cola bottles,” Scarlett said briskly, “the big ones.”
“All right.” Barry held out a hand, and the diminutive artist pressed her open sketchbook into it. He looked at the page, and his eyes widened. Then he looked up, and saw someone coming around the corner, just behind Scarlett.
Barry looked at the person, and looked at the paper, and then looked back at the person again.
“Hello Barry,” said Felicity, pushing her sunglasses further up her shapely nose. “How...
to see you still alive.”
“OK,” said Fabien, pulling disconsolately at his beer, “I might not have been telling the whole truth back there.”
He, Blake and Goishi were in a small, run-down bar that they vaguely remembered having spent some time in last night; at one o’clock, it was probably too early for decent people to lose their sobriety, but none of them fell into that category, and consequently were unbound by social convention.
“Well, I be’ you were jus’ misinformed,” Blake said consolingly. “I mean, you’ve never been wrong before.”
“Yeah.” Fabien sat up. “Yeah! I should go right back and say—”
“I don’ think we should go back,” Blake said. “The cops’ll be there by now, won’ they?”
After deciding that running away was the coward’s way out, Fabien had released Goishi and gone back to make the zookeeper see sense; however, the Crobat’s presence had several of the smaller animals into shock, and spooked the zebras in the next enclosure so much that they’d tried to stampede, found it was impossible in their small home and ended up with a variety of injuries between them. At this, the zookeepers had shown up and shot Goishi with a tranquiliser dart, not realising that no noxious chemicals really affected Poison-types, and then there had been something of a difference of opinions. This had ended badly for all concerned, but worst of all for the young intern zookeeper; after that, Fabien and Blake had decided that it would be best to flee before the police showed up.
“Yes, that’s true,” Fabien said thoughtfully. “Well, that kid should know better than to mess with his elders and betters. I mean, I was perfectly polite.”
-ek,” Goishi put in, which probably meant ‘no, you weren’t. You were savage and unreasonable and a great many more things besides.’
“Quite right, quite right,” agreed Fabien. “I understand entirely.”
-eek.” (Sure you do.)
“Mind you,” Fabien said, “it’s lucky I came to my senses when I did. After all, I don’t know my own strength when I’m in a mood like that. I could have killed him.”
Blake and Goishi exchanged glances.
“Righ’,” said Blake. “Well, wha’ we doin’ now?”
“Getting drunk,” replied Fabien. “Isn’t it obvious? There’s been an unpleasantness, and I find that the best way to get over an unpleasantness is to drink. So. Barkeep! Another round, if you please.”
“Oh.” Blake sat back. This sitting around thing seemed very similar to what
had in mind for the day, but who was he to argue with a criminal genius like Fabien?
had C-sense, after all.
He took up his beer, leaned on his elbows and closed his eyes contentedly. However Fabien felt, the world was all right by Blake today.
Sapphire and I were looking at each other across my room at the hotel. I was sitting on the bed, she was sitting on the chair.
The atmosphere was weird.
, repeated Puck.
That the best you can do? ‘Weird’? How about ‘tense’? ‘Charged’?
He stopped suddenly.
Hello? Are you listening? Hello?
I wasn’t. My eyes were fixed on Sapphire’s face, hypnotised by the contortions it was going through. I knew exactly what was going on.
She was trying to congratulate me.
Our escape from Mount Chimney had been entirely my doing – I’d even managed to dismiss my clone army, which was quite an achievement – and we’d come straight back here afterwards, without a word passing between us. All the time, Sapphire had been trying to say thank you, and as of yet, she hadn’t managed it.
Ordinarily, I’d say you’re being arrogant and presumptuous
, Puck said,
but I think you’re right.
“Kester,” said Sapphire at last, and I started. I’d been betting on at least another hour.
trademark cheery tone!
cried Puck, scandalised.
Give it back – nah, just kidding. You can use it if you like. But not too much
, he added in a disquietingly dark tone.
Because if you threaten my position as the funny man...
A brief mental image of something unspeakable flashed before my eyes, and I had to struggle to resist the urge to throw up.
“I want to say... thanks,” Sapphire managed.
“No problem,” I answered. I wanted to add ‘See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?’, but felt it unwise and somewhat tactless.
You have tact?
Puck asked, shocked.
When did this happen? Why wasn’t I informed?
“I thought I had you down as a useless coward,” Sapphire went on, choosing each word carefully. “But then you decided we’d go after Zero, so I knew I’d got that wrong. So I got another image of you, but now I think that was wrong too.” She stopped. “Is this making any sense?”
“Mostly,” I affirmed. “Carry on.”
“I don’t know what else to say.” Sapphire seemed to be at something of a loss. “Er... thanks again, I suppose.”
It’s a start
, Puck said.
We can haz character development, no?
“It’s OK,” I said, ignoring him and his Internet meme references. “I get it.” I smiled, partly at her discomfort and partly because it was, well, pretty nice to be appreciated for once.
“Right.” Sapphire looked at the clock; it told her in no uncertain terms that it was 13.12. “Shall we get something to eat?”
“Yes,” I said, “let’s do that. And then maybe you” – I was talking to Puck – “can shed some light on what the Magmas were up to.”
Sapphire looked puzzled.
“I don’t know what they were doing.”
“Not you. Puck.”
I’m sure I had no idea that Maxie was trying to call forth the Earthmaster.
Puck stopped suddenly and swore.
Damn my flippancy! I gave it away.
“You can tell us all about that over lunch,” I said, hard-eyed. He couldn’t see them, but it was the thought that counted – especially as he was reading them. “And if not...”
He read my mind.
Oh Zekrom no
, he gasped, appalled.
No, not that. I don’t think I can take that again.
I was going to muse long and hard on the business that had occurred last year, in all its glorious depravity and improbability. Especially on the part where—
No! All right, all right, I’ll tell you.
That part... it’s wrong on so many levels. Morally, spiritually, dermatologically...
, I replied. Then, to Sapphire: “Let’s go.”
We left, and spoke no more until we were comfortably installed in a small restaurant just off Lavaridge’s main street. I wondered how Sapphire’s bank balance could stand the sustained assault of repeated dining out, but in the end decided it didn’t matter. It was her money, after all, and if she wanted to spend it feeding me then that was all right in my book.
The restaurant appeared to principally cater to the tastes of old people, and so its dishes seemed to be based on the notion that softness was supreme. I ordered something squishy, and Sapphire something else equally squishy; Puck looked on with the faint disgust of the well-mannered.
All the restaurants in all the world
, he began, then stopped.
No, I already made that joke.
“Here,” said Sapphire, putting her mobile in my hand. “Have him speak through this, so we can both hear.”
“Thanks. OK, Puck,” I said, taking a long draught of my Coke, “tell us what’s going on.”
“All right,” he said, voice crackly through the phone’s inferior speakers. “The first thing you have to know is that I’m not sure. I can’t be sure about any of this until I see a few more pieces of the puzzle. But it has to do with an old Hoennian legend – a legend that I think you’ll find familiar. The legend of Rayquaza.”
At this, Sapphire’s eyes widened.
it couldn’t be a coincidence,” she said, though I’m not sure she had actually thought anything of the kind. “Rayquaza’s murder, the raising of that hand – they were connected, right?”
“Our survey said...” An unpronounceable noise that seemed to signify the affirmative came from Sapphire’s phone. “It isn’t common knowledge, because only Rayquaza has ever been seen by humans, but because I’m so amazing, I know it. Settle down, boys and girls, and listen to my story.
“A long time ago – though in this galaxy, not in one far away – there were two Pokémon. Groudon, or Behemoth, the lord of the earth. And Kyogre, or Leviathan, the master of the ocean.
“Land and sea have never coexisted happily. You can see it in the way the waves erode the shoreline, or rock flows up from underground to expand the landmass. They’re always fighting each other, and the battle began with Groudon and Kyogre.
“Groudon and Kyogre fought. Their very essences opposed one another: fire and soil versus rain and wave. Groudon raised up massive continents, trying to cover the globe with earth so that Kyogre would lose the water it needed to survive; Kyogre tried to drown Groudon in its sea. Their battle was bloody and the losses unimaginable. Millions and millions of creatures, animal and Pokémon alike, were caught up in the storms and earthquakes and perished by the thunder and the stone.”
“So what happened next?” Sapphire’s voice was low, almost a whisper; looking back now, I think she always had a better imagination than I did, and I’m sure that she could see the devastation in her mind's eye, a brutal Golgotha that stretched for a thousand miles in all directions. For me, Puck’s words were just that: words. I don’t think I even believed them at the time. After all, legends are... well, they’re not true. That’s why they’re legends.
“Something had to be done,” Puck replied simply. “So people prayed.”
“Prayed? To whom?”
. I would just have said ‘who’, but I guess that was me being ignorant.
“Anyone they could think of. The Psychic-types of the time were fairly advanced, though none of them are alive today. The story says the species was called Utalion, but I don’t know how much of that is true.
“Anyway, their prayers were answered. No one knows who by, but current scholarly opinion inclines to Arceus, though from what I know of it that guy wouldn’t lift a finger to save a drowning orphan – he’s just so deist.
“Er... yes, so Arceus created a third Pokémon, Rayquaza of the sky, to counterbalance Groudon and Kyogre. And Rayquaza ended their conflict.”
“How?” I asked.
“It flew up to the very limits of the stratosphere, and Hyper Beamed a meteor, bouncing it off-course and sending it crashing into the Earth. It killed off millions more of the inhabitants, but since it landed on Groudon and Kyogre, it knocked them out. After that, Rayquaza separated them, sealing Kyogre deep under the ocean and Groudon inside a mountain – which subsequently became a volcano.”
“Mount Chimney!” cried Sapphire.
“Precisely.” Puck sounded smug – but then, he almost always sounded smug. “Maxie must have found out about the legend – probably from this Benefactor guy, who I’m going to guess is Zero – and tried to raise Groudon to use as a weapon against Team Aqua.”
“But... what happened?” I asked. “It didn’t work, did it?”
“Because Groudon died,” Puck stated baldly. “Nothing lives forever. What Maxie raised was its fossilised skin, a massive hunk of rock that
like a Groudon. Hold up, the food’s coming.”
As we took our plates from the waiter, I tried to wrap my head around what Puck had just told me – and to my surprise, I succeeded. I supposed that after all I’d been through these last two weeks, I was ready to believe just about anything.
“Right,” Puck went on once the waiter had left, “where was I? Oh yeah, the Groudon thing. Now, Groudon’s dead, but... it isn’t dead, if you know what I mean. It’s an Osiris sort of thing. His... life force, or soul or whatever you want to call it, has left and gone elsewhere.”
This I couldn’t believe, and, it seemed, neither could Sapphire.
“His soul?” she asked, raising one eyebrow. “Those don’t exist.”
“She’s right,” I confirmed. “Nothing is permanent.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, throw your Buddhist ‘anicca’ stuff around all you like—”
“I’m not a Buddhist,” started Sapphire, but Puck carried on:
“—or your godless heathen stuff, if that’s your bag, but it’s true. You’ve probably even seen his soul. It’s in a museum, and it glows red with the power of magma.”
That stopped me dead in my tracks. I actually
seen it before. Everyone had.
“That can’t be true,” I said in hushed tones. “Can it...?”
“You’d best believe it, baby,” Puck said. “The Red Orb in the Pyre Memorial Museum is the soul of the planet core.”
The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World
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The Rocket Revival
Neither Here Nor There
Coriolanus Rowland's Guide to Pokémon Husbandry
Robin Goodfellow's Christmas Carol
Stranger Than Fiction
My Trip to the End of Time, by Pearl Gideon
A Smell of Petroleum Pervades Throughout
For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click
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